My Living Will & Power of Attorney & Why YOU Need One

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A couple of months ago a co-worker of mine needed me to sign as a witness on her living will.   I asked her where she got it from (assuming she had to go see a lawyer, etc.) and she said (By the way - this isn't a sponsored post, I'm writing this because I think it's very important).  For $5 you can purchase the form and print it and have it filled out.   They also advise you on the requirements depending on the state you live in. So one of the recommendations is that you give your physician a copy for their files.  So at my last check up, I handed it over and my doctor was super impressed.  She told me that most people at my age don't have one, and it's foolish NOT to.  That was all she needed to say to make me want to write a blog post about this.

So anyways... you are probably wondering a few things so let me answer them...

What IS a Living Will?
A Living Will is pretty much a way to put on paper, your end of life decisions.   On your Living Will you get to choose what treatments you do or don't want, what medications you want, and if you want to be kept alive by artificial means...aka do you want someone to pull the plug? Sorry that I'm so blunt but it's the best way to ring a bell for you. 

Why do you need one?
If God forbid you get into an accident, or come down with a terminal illness at ANY age, and you are unable to speak or communicate your wishes, they are already written out for those taking care of you. 

When should you get one?
Now. No matter what age you are.  If you are going to be having surgery or be hospitalized soon, it's also a good idea to get one, especially if you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Who should you designate?
With a Living Will you get to appoint someone to make decisions for you, still being based on YOUR needs and wants that you specified at a time when you were of sound mind. 

What is a Power of Attorney?
A POA allows you to choose someone you trust to make the big medical decisions for you, should you not be able to make them yourself.  A Living Will covers things that happen as you are likely on your way out, but a Power of Attorney covers healthcare decisions at any time.  On a Power of Attorney you can choose what treatments you may or may not want, like dialysis or a blood tranfusion. 

Why do you need one?
If you are incapable of making decisions yourself some day, someone is given direction to make them for you.

Who should you appoint?
Obviously, someone you trust.  With a Power of Attorney you get to designate an agent to make these decisions so make sure it's someone you respect and trust to do the right thing. 

For both a Living Will and a Power of Attorney, make sure whomever it is respects your moral and religious beliefs and is also comfortable being the decision maker.
You can also select an alternate in the case that your first choice is unable to make any decisions or carry out your wishes.

Do I need to update these documents? Yes, as your life changes. If someone you designated to make decisions passes away, you should obviously change it.  If you get married or get a divorce, you should change it. 

So basically I'm being a good friend and advising you to do this because it takes less than an hour of your time to fill out and then all you have to do is get people and witnesses to sign.  It's extremely important to have these documents so GET THEM!!

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